Many businesses look to independent contractors to pick up the slack when work gets busy. Online freelancing services like Upwork have made it even easier to find these contractors. Unfortunately, remotely managing contractors can introduce its own set of issues. Here are five crucial things you should know when hiring freelancers from Upwork.

Some Freelancers Copy and Paste their Cover Letters

Upwork proposals require a currency called “Connects,” and Upwork gives contractors a finite number of these Connects to encourage thoughtful project bids. In spite of this, some contractors will copy and paste their cover letters anyway, which means they may not have read your project description and could be ill-prepared to take on the task.

Many companies identify copy-pasters by asking that freelancers use a certain word at the top of their proposal. If that word isn’t there, the company knows that the contractor didn’t read the project description carefully enough, and can then discard that proposal with confidence.

If you’re past the proposal point and are actively interviewing a candidate, ensure that the contractor understands the specificities of your project before awarding it.

You Must Lay Out the Project Scope and Timetables in Advance

This will save you bucketloads of stress in the long run. Before you award your Upwork project to anyone, lay out a clear expectation of the work you wish to receive, and the timetable you’d like to receive it in. Be very specific about the amount of work to be done and the deadlines you expect the contractor to hit. This prevents you from ever being out of the loop with how your project is coming along and helps you identify early on if a contractor isn’t going to work out, which saves you time and money.

Always Protect Access to Your Online Accounts

Depending on the type of project you’re heading, you may need to provide an Upwork freelancer with access to your blog, social media accounts, or other properties. Do not give them your master usernames and passwords! Instead, create another user account with lesser permissions, if possible, or route your accounts through a third-party dashboard that can be disabled from the main account.

Why is this necessary? Should your Upwork project end on bad terms, you may feel compelled to leave bad feedback for the contractor. If that contractor has the ability to retaliate by highjacking your online accounts, you’re going to be in for a couple rough weeks of dealing with customer support, not to mention the fallout of dealing with any social media posts the contractor made.

Rate Appropriately, and Remember, You’re Also Being Rated

It’s important to rate contractors appropriately on Upwork. It’s also important to communicate clearly, pay promptly, and remain civil when communicating with a contractor. At the end of a project, you’ll be given the opportunity to rate your contractor, but it’s important to remember that you will be rated, as well. A poor rating could dissuade the best freelancers from Upwork from wanting to work with you, leaving you with lesser-quality candidates.

Taking a Freelancer Away from Upwork can Get Expensive

If you’ve found a contractor on Upwork that you really like, you may feel the temptation to take your relationship off-platform and start paying them directly. If you get caught doing so, however, it could become expensive.

Upwork’s Terms of Service include a “non-circumvention” period of 24 months, which means you’re not allowed to directly pay your Upwork freelancer for two years–that is, unless you pay an opt-out fee, which is either $2,500 or 15 percent of what you estimate you’ll pay your freelancer over two years.Taking the relationship away from the Upwork platform without paying the opt-out fee will likely result in your account being terminated.

What about your experiences hiring freelancers on Upwork? Do you have a good tip to share? Let me know in the comment section below.

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